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According to details published on the AFC website, although Quang Hai may be young enough to continue playing in the competition for another decade, he has already left a significant mark on the continental competition, particularly following his exceptional performances in 2019, VOV reported.
“The then 22-year-old was simply devastating throughout the tournament, setting up a hatful of goals in the group stage and scoring two screamers in the Inter-zone play-off semi-final against Altyn Asyr, with only an away goals defeat to 4.25 SC preventing Hanoi from becoming the first Vietnamese club to reach the final”, outlines the AFC’s website.
|Vietnamese footballer Quang Hai. Photo: VOV|
The year ahead is set to see the return of Quang Hai to the competition as his club side Hanoi FC has qualified for the 2021 version of the AFC Cup.
Other midfielders on the list are Mahmood Abdulrahman (Bahrain), Safiq Rahim (Malaysia), Rogerinho (Brazil), Firas Al Khatib (Syria), Hariss Harun (Singapore), Jehad Al Hussein (Syria), Hasan Abdel-Fattah (Jordan), Zaher Al Midani (Syria), Stephan Schrock (Philippines), Odai Al Saify (Jordan) and Therdsak Chaiman (Thailand).
The midfielders were chosen by AFC based on versatility, flair, and outstanding individual quality.
From 12 midfielders, AFC will select two that gain the most votes for the ultimate AFC Cup dream team.
Votes end March 18.
In November last year, Nguyen Quang Hai’s goal was voted among the top four best AFC Cup goals ever scored.
In the Asian Football Confederation (AFC) Cup Bracket Challenge to find the best goal, 32 nominees were paired, with the winner of each grouping proceeding to the next round based on votes, according to Vnexpress.
In the quarterfinals of the challenge, Hai went up against former Indian defensive midfielder Mehtab Hossain’s cracker for East Bengal in the 2013 AFC Cup. He dominated the poll with 80.04 percent of the votes.
Hai’s goal came from a wonderful free-kick during the Interzone semi-final first leg of AFC Cup 2019 between Hanoi FC and Turkmenistan side Altyn Asyr. The star midfielder glided the ball into the top left corner from 20 yards, his favorite distance. The goal helped Hanoi FC win 3-2.
"Dead-ball specialist Nguyen Quang Hai was at his best against Turkmenistan's Altyn Asyr, leaving the goalkeeper flat-footed after curling around the wall from 20 yards to tie the score at 1-1," AFC wrote.
To get this far, Vietnamese idol Quang Hai received more votes than 4.25 SC's An Il-Bom and FC Istiklol's Manuchehr Dzhalilov in the previous rounds.
In the semifinals, Hai’s goal will face a tricky one by Maldives’ finest player, Ali Ashfaq for New Radiant in the 2013 AFC Cup. Previously in the quarterfinals, Ashfaq's goal had beaten a scissor kick by Nguyen Van Quyet, Hai’s teammate at Hanoi FC.
Hai, 23, played a key role in Vietnam's national team, helping them enter the finals of the 2018 AFC U23 Championship and win the 2018 AFF Cup. At Hanoi FC, Hai contributed greatly to two consecutive V. League 1 title wins in 2018 and 2019.
His was also voted the best free-kick goal in AFC Cup history by fans in June.
A rarity in the past, Vietnamese players are getting more overseas opportunities thanks to a higher regional profile.
England’s World Soccer magazine has named Vietnamese midfielder Nguyen Quang Hai in its unranked list of 500 most important players on the planet.
After finishing second at the AFC U23 Championship, Vietnam’s younger generation of football stars are ready to shine